Home Plumbing: The Differences between Greywater and Blackwater

Most people are not familiar with the term, “greywater.” And if you mention the word “blackwater,” a majority of folks might think you’re talking about a popular song. However, these two diverse types of water exist right under our noses. Actually, they exist under our feet, over our heads and within our walls as they continuously course through our home plumbing systems.

Clean or “potable” water comes into a home and is distributed to various fixtures and appliances within the dwelling. These include sinks, toilets, showers and apparatuses such as washing machines, dishwashers and hot water heaters.

Greywater, also referred to as “sullage,” is water that drains from sinks, bathtubs, dishwashers and washing machines after it is used. Basically, greywater is the wastewater that results from household use.

Blackwater is basically sewage, or water containing human waste that is flushed down toilets. In some cases, wastewater from dishwashers, garbage disposals and kitchen sinks is also considered to be blackwater.

Greywater and blackwater are often processed and treated separately. Blackwater contains harmful bacteria not considered fit to be reintroduced into the environment for purposes other than creating fertilizing and composting material. This is not to say that blackwater absolutely cannot be recycled. However, the process is quite involved and expensive.

On the other hand, greywater does not contain the pathogens and contaminants present in blackwater. Therefore, it is immanently more capable of being reused. In fact, there is a growing trend toward recycling greywater so that it can be used around the house for purposes such as watering the lawn and garden and washing the car or even flushing toilets.

Homeowners interested in finding out more about greywater and the various treatment systems available for recycling it should consult with area plumbing contractors or contact their local plumbing supply company. By reusing greywater, homeowners can conserve water and reduce their water bill as a result.

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